• Knowing the Philippine Army's BO-105 Helicopters

    These donated helicopters operated by the Philippine Army's Aviation Regiment provides much needed field support, especially on medevac-related evacuation and other logistical concerns.

  • Updates on the PAF's C-130J-30 Super Hercules Aircraft

    The Philippine Air Force, for the first time, sets to have at least three (3) brand new cargo aircraft from Lockheed Martin, which is done through a commercial deal between the two entities.

  • Phil. Army's Armored Vehicle-Launched Bridge Project

    This AVLB with a Merkava IV chassis serves as the first platform of such type for the Philippine Army to use, and may set as a reference for the service branch’s future armored vehicle plans and programs later on.

  • Navantia's Submarine Offer to the Philippine Navy

    The Spanish shipbuilder has offered its submarine offer for the Philippine Navy's submarine project. How will it fare compare to its competitors like France's Naval Group and South Korea's Hanwha Ocean?

  • Knowing the AW-109 Helicopter of both PAF and PN

    Both the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy possess this type of helicopter that basically define as a first step towards a more capable Armed Forces, implemented during the First Horizon of the AFP Modernization Program.

  • The Phil. Army's Interest on the FGM-148 Javelin ATGM

    The Philippine Army is improving its firepower capabilities, and it witnessed the performance brought by this anti-tank missile during the Balikatan 2023 Exercises. Now they are considering it for their systems.

  • Know More About Us

    Just kindly click this link to understand more about our resolve of providing knowledge and perspective in relation to the Philippine defense and other related topics or discussions.

Thailand's Offshore Patrol Vessel Offer to the Philippine Navy

As the Philippine Navy keeps on modernizing its fleet of highly-capable vessels, it came with several shipbuilding companies interested in participating in the deal with the aims of getting and securing the contract, by which they will be obligated in building gray-hull vessels and eventually providing aftersales support whilst securing profit needed for the operations of the winning bidder.

Those suppliers usually came with the backing of their respective governments wherein forging contracts for the production of warships go beyond the obligation that arose between the supplier and buyer but rather, an opportunity to improve relations between two nations, let alone between two neighboring countries within the region.

Royal Thai Navy, HTMS Krabi, River-class Offshore Patrol Vessel
Royal Thai Navy's HTMS Krabi (OPV-551), built locally
with support from BAE Systems Support Ships of U.K.
(c) Wikimedia Commons 
As detailed on the March 4 report from the IHS Janes website, both the Philippine and Thai governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding that expands defense industrial cooperation between the two Southeast Asian countries, a significant step that may allow Thailand in showcasing their candidate vessel for the Philippine Navy's Offshore Patrol Vessel and eventually selling them if they managed to win out the bid.

This news came along with the other development involving a similar agreement between the Philippine government and their Indian counterparts which also involves a Memorandum of Understanding that allows the latter to supply the former shall the contract which involves the bid for both the Philippine Army's Land-Based Missile System and the Philippine Navy's Shore-Based Anti-ship Missile System secured by India as they offered their Brahmos Supersonic Missile for both these projects.

To take note, it was widely discussed in the local defense community about the competitor of the Offshore Patrol Vessel acquisition project especially with Australia's offer with Austal's Cape-class derived vessel being the prime candidate to the project with its advantage being that it may be produced within the company's shipyard in Cebu, giving additional jobs that benefit the local population while at the same time providing defense necessities for the Philippine Armed Forces.

With Thailand joining the project, they are looking forward to securing this project as it may mean the debut of their own defense industrial complex as this may serve as the first known export of the Thai-made warship to a fellow Southeast Asian country, in the same manner to the Indonesians did when PT Pal Persero successfully delivered its two Landing Platform Dock vessels known as the Tarlac-class to the Philippine Navy consisting of BRP Tarlac LD-601 and BRP Davao del Sur LD-602.

In this discussion, let us discuss in-detail with regards the background of development for the current Thai Offshore Patrol Vessels in service, as well as the shipbuilding company that produced these vessels and also the design of the vessels in which it came with assistance and support from a known defense company in the United Kingdom that made the current standing of Thai shipbuilding possible to engage in the Philippine Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel bid.

Image: HTMS Bangpakong undertaking repair and maintenance procedure in Thailand's military shipbuilding drydock. Image Courtesy to Bangkok Post, by Apichart Jinakul.
Just like Indonesia, Thailand is also capable of producing its own warships starting with the Offshore Patrol Vessels, of which its design cue was derived from the original British variant of the vessel and also the one that the Thais are currently marketing to the Philippine Navy's Offshore Patrol Vessel acquisition project as it will be competing with other bidders of the project such as Australia's Austal shipbuilding.

Its military shipbuilding came in the form of Mahidol Adulayej Naval Dockyard, which is in Sattahip District,  Chonburi province in Thailand which is situated southeast of Bangkok in the shoreline facing the Gulf of Thailand, adjacent to a nearby Royal Thai Navy base wherein warships like the Spanish-made HTMS Chakri Naruebet aircraft carrier is currently based.

The said naval dockyard is currently owned by Bangkok Dock Company, in which the Government of Thailand has full control through the Ministry of Finance with its board of members composed of senior naval officers with the Royal Thai Navy commander in chief served as a chairman that oversees operations of the company which involves the production of the Krabi offshore patrol vessels for their fleet.

The main specialty of Mahidol Adulayej Naval Dockyard, aside from building Krabi-class Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Royal Thai Navy, is to maintain currently-active warships of the Thai maritime fleet such as the Chinese-made HTMS Bangpakong seen in the image above in which it plays a significant role to maintain and repair such vessels and keep them functional for the Royal Thai Armed Forces, especially for its naval component to uphold their mandate before the Kingdom they serve.

Back to the discussion about the Bangkok Dock Company, it was worth mentioning that it was originally founded by a British entrepreneur in the mid-19th century (1865) with the original purpose of serving cargo vessels that came into Bangkok's ports for trade,  in which it is a far cry to its current naval-oriented operations with the current aims of expanding their market share across Southeast Asia, starting with the Philippines itself shall they bagged the contract for the project.

This Thai naval dockyard was named after the Prince of Songkla Mahidol Adulayej, father to both King Ananda Mahidol and King Bhumibol Adulyadej that have ruled Thailand for the huge part of the 20th Century down to the first part of the 21st Century, of which he served in the Royal Thai Navy from 1912 to 1916 at the rank of Lieutenant and eventually at the rank of Captain before his resignation to pursue his goals.

Apparently, the Thai naval leadership had plans of adding facilities to this Naval Dockyard that can accommodate submarines as the country aspires to have such naval assets, in the same manner as the Philippine Navy currently pursuing its own submarines with the latest information involves a deal with the French as the Scorpenes are to be the likely candidate for the Philippine submarine procurement.

This British defense company is notable for manufacturing sophisticated military equipment such as the Eurofighter Typhoon (imaged above). Image Source.
To further understand the undertaking that made this deal possible involving Royal Thai Navy's Offshore Patrol Vessels like the HTMS Krabi, let us discuss further a partnership that Thailand's Bangkok Dock Company made with a foreign defense company by which it influenced the development of these naval assets that are currently being offered to the Philippine Navy through is Offshore Patrol Vessel acquisition project.

With regards to the foreign defense company, we are referring to the British multinational defense company BAE Systems plc which is a known global brand in producing sophisticated military weaponry primarily to both European and United States markets like the Eurofighter Typhoon (seen above) utilized in service of primarily European Air Forces such as the British Royal Air Force, the Spanish Air Force, and the German Air Force (Luftwaffe).

The company itself was formed after the British Aerospace plc (BAe) and Marconi Electronic Systems merged in November of 1999 when the former purchased the latter in the amount of £7.7 billion in which cemented its foothold as a known defense company until today, with subsidiaries operating under the BAE Systems umbrella such as the United States-based BAE Systems, Inc., and BAE Systems Surface Ships which is the one responsible for the production of River-class derived ships for the Royal Thai Navy.

The BAE Systems Surface Ships, or BAE Systems Maritime as it is known today, started as a joint venture between BAE Systems plc and VT Group on July 1, 2008, when it became operational as the BVT Surface Fleet and eventually became known as the BAE Systems Surface Ships when VT Group sold its stake in the shipbuilding industry joint venture to BAE Systems plc 15 months later, on October 30, 2009, effectively solidifying its organization with regards to shipbuilding.

From its inception, it has produced several naval ships intended for other countries like the Lekiu-class Frigates intended for the Royal Malaysian Navy, Nakhoda Ragam-class Corvettes for Brunei Darussalam's Navy in which it was sold eventually to the Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Laut) as the Bung Tomo-class Corvette, and eventually the Krabi-class Patrol Vessels of Thailand which will be the highlight of the topic of this article.

Here are the specifications and other relevant information about the Krabi patrol vessels of the Royal Thai Navy. Image and screengrab reference as specified.
The Krabi patrol vessel of the Royal Thai Navy consists of these two vessels:
- HTMS Krabi (OPV-551)
- HTMS Prachuap Khiri Khan (OPV-552)

These vessels made by Bangkok Dock Company is built with 100% steel in their structure, which is typical in maritime shipbuilding as compared to the Offshore Patrol Vessels offered by Austal in which it may come with a mix between having a steel hull and aluminum superstructure as opposed to the full Aluminum-based construction of vessels like the Cape-class patrol vessels of the Royal Australian Navy.

Given its specifications, the Krabi patrol vessel is seen as larger in its dimension as opposed to Austal's deal, wherein the Thai offshore patrol vessel is at 8meters longer at 90 meters as opposed to the Australian-built warships with 83 meters while there is a small difference on its width or "beam" in maritime parlance on both vessels, with the Thai-made vessel having 13.5 meters while the Australian offer has 13.3 meters.

The Krabi-class offshore patrol vessel also goes larger than the BRP Gabriela Silang of the Philippine Coast Guard, a full aluminum-made offshore patrol vessel of the agency produced by the French shipbuilder OCEA with a length of around 84 meters, currently the largest vessel in their fleet until the larger Japanese-made ships will be delivered with its design derived from the Kunigami-class patrol vessels of Japan Coast Guard. 

With regards to the design of the Krabi offshore patrol vessel, it closely resembles the Batch 2 River-class Offshore Patrol Vessel of the British Royal Navy, especially that both vessels were developed by BAE Systems Surface Ships, although there are slight variations between these two types of vessels with the different navies having their own military specifications and requirements which will see fit to their respective fleet necessities, with varying threats taken into consideration that will define the configuration of a warship, especially to its fitted weaponry.

As one might notice, the Krabi patrol vessel is fitted with a 76mm Oto Melara main Gun as opposed to the 30mm main guns seen fitted onboard the Batch 2 River-class Offshore Patrol Vessels of the British Royal Navy, while the Krabi's secondary armaments came in the form of 30mm MSI guns and the second warship on its fleet, the HTMS Prachuap Khiri Khan, may get fitted with 2x4 Harpoon launchers will render it more formidable, even for an offshore patrol vessel.

Other specifications of the Krabi patrol vessels include its top speed of 25 knots which are made by 2 MAN 19V28/33D diesel engines, a 16-cylinder powerplant which has a power requirement that ranges from 5,000kw - 10,000kw per unit, totaling it at around 10,000kw - 20,000kw for a single Offshore Patrol Vessel such as the HTMS Krabi of the Royal Thai Navy.

With Krabi's design shared not only with the Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessels of the British Royal Navy but also with the Brazilian Navy and its Amazona-class offshore patrol vessels, there will not be much of a problem with regards to the reliability of such vessels shall a warship or a patrol vessel will be considered by the Philippine Navy for its Offshore Patrol Vessel Acquisition Project, competing with the likes of Austal's Philippine Navy OPV offer.

Austal's Offshore Patrol Vessel offer still has the upper hand on this acquisition project.
Obtained from Austal's video ad.
The offer made by Thailand's Bangkok Dock Company for an offshore patrol vessel is seen as a welcoming gesture, aiming at improving defense ties between the Philippines and its fellow Southeast Asian neighbor while getting the benefit on both sides in a sense that a buyer successfully obtained the tools it requires to have while the seller managed to make a sale from a deal while expanding its market at the same time.

While such an offer is seen as a good move from Thailand, let it be noted that they still do face stiff competition from other shipbuilding companies who wanted to bag the contract for the delivery of six offshore patrol vessels to the Philippine Navy, with offers also having its own weight of benefits that an end-user simply cannot resist as the perks define the value of the goods delivered from a fixed budget allocated.

To take note, Austal's offer is still seen as the top choice for the Philippine Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel Acquisition Project, as said by the Secretary of National Defense in his speech during the christening of BRP Antonio Luna FF-151 in which he cited Austal's established shipyard in Balamban, Cebu, as having them awarded to the Australian shipbuilding firm can also provide additional employment for aspiring Filipinos who wanted to join Austal while stimulating the local shipbuilding industry with these warships that one can say that it is really a Filipino-made naval vessel.

Despite Austal's current lead in the project, other shipbuilding firms that laid their offers on the table are still a welcoming aspect of competition in this acquisition project as an end-user like the Philippine Navy now has multiple options to consider by which the prospective bidder with the lowest and most responsive bid, wins just like in the provisions stated in the Procurement Law or R.A. 9184.

With this, we may look forward to the further milestones that the currently-materializing acquisition project of the Philippine Navy may bring, especially now that the fleet is now phasing its old World War 2-era vessels out of service with the aims of increasing the number of newer ships servicing the fleet as well as the desire of ever-increasing maritime capabilities, all for the Naval Defense of the Philippine Republic.

(c) 2021 PDA.

Detailing Further the Spotted MQ-1C Gray Eagle in Zamboanga City

It is a fully-known fact that the United States Military deployed several of their known Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or “drones” as described by a typical citizen in the country especially in the City of Zamboanga which is perfectly situated in the Western part of Mindanao, covering much of the island group plagued with multiple insurgents primarily the radical Moro terrorists that seek to derail peace and order on this part of the country.

Furthermore, their presence has already been discussed in [our previous article] wherein additional details are also dealt on especially about the prospect UAV procurement projects that the Philippine Air Force undertook with their hardware originated from Israel.

In this article, we will discuss the MQ-1C Gray Eagle further as its recent spotting made by a netizen originated from the Ciudad Hermosa de Zamboanga clouts many comments on threads describing it as something other than the main one described even to the point that [other posters] created an unnecessary trivial content which leaves its viewers clueless about the platforms mentioned without diving into the details.

So, let’s get this one started.

Link for the actual video clip here.
On the video provided by the main poster named Charles Lee on a Facebook Group named Zamboanga Drone Enthusiast (Zambo UAV Club), the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was seen doing its final approach into the runway given its descending altitude and landing gear retracted down.

The video was taken from an urban area at the proximity of the runway which is currently shared by both the Zamboanga International Airport and Edwin Andrews Airbase which is the key Philippine Air Force installation in the region and also the one that sheltered several forces from the United States military that flies these UAVs.

On the comments provided on the main post on our Facebook page, their description of the aircraft ranges from the newly-procured Philippine Air Force Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 which are both procured from Israel’s IAI or Israel Aerospace Industries down to an absurd description of it being the MQ-9 Reaper UAV while others have it knowledgeably known it as it is.

While others have it almost-correctly describe it as the MQ-1 Predator, let it be known that there is a distinction between different variants of this Unmanned Aerial Vehicle wherein the difference can be clearly seen on its fuselage along with other details that will be discussed regarding this topic, giving insight about the tools employed by the United States military on its counterinsurgency assistance in the country.

Hence, this will provide the necessary information provided that will give its respective distinction that clarifies its difference from other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in both the United States and the Philippines currently use, as well as getting more grasp on the capabilities that this surveillance platform possesses and its use in keeping peace and order in the country’s volatile southern part.

Click the image to enlarge.
Before discussing the MQ-1C Gray Eagle further, kindly observe in detail the difference between four images depicting four different Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as indicated above.

The first image on the top left originated from a Youtube Channel named Aviation News and Analysis is the cigar-shaped fuselage of the Hermes 450 from Israel Aerospace Industries or IAI in which the Philippine Air Force already received several of such units for their own fleet of surveillance aircraft, with its tail wing (rudder/elevator) portion pointed upwards with its size being smaller than the other following unmanned aerial vehicles.

The second image on the top right is from the Aviation International News website wherein it shows the Hermes 900’s design attributes wherein the UAV, just like its Hermes 450 cousin, is originated from the same manufacturer from Israel. 

While it has a bulge on the frontal part of the fuselage that may go similar to the MQ-1 Predator, MQ-1C Gray Eagle, and even the MQ-9 Reaper as it carries on its main components like its essential sensors, navigational systems, and controls received from a ground station, its main distinction goes similarly with the Hermes 450 as both UAVs shares similar upward tail wing which is different from the two other images depicting the MQ-1 and the MQ-1 Gray Eagle.

Both the Predator and the Gray Eagle belong to the same family of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles wherein they are produced by the United States’ General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, with the latter being an upgrade from the latter with the United States Army being its primary user to date.

At the surface, the physical difference that can be clearly seen between these two platforms are the bulge seen near the tail of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle aircraft which houses an improved power plant that keeps it flying, preferably at the capabilities far better than the original MQ-1 Predator obtains during its tenure in the United States Air Force.

Discussions in detail between the Gray Eagle and the Predator will be provided as we read along with this write-up to gather deeper information regarding the upgrades that integrated on the MQ-1C along with the discussion of the overall developments of the greater MQ-1 family of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles serving the United States Military.

The basic specifications of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, with armaments
and other features discussed separately.
From FAS.org PDF file.
The details shown above provide an insight into the capabilities of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle possesses as far as its surveillance operation is concerned, giving real-time updates on the ground situation that helps give an advantage for an armed force such as those for the United States, in coping with its counterterrorism activities.

This type of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is capable to carry munitions, to be specific the AGM-114 Hellfire Missiles which is also a feature that its older cousin the MQ-1 Predator possess, wherein it gives its operators the discretion to fire on the target upright when it is needed, although not applicable in the Philippine setting since foreign parties can't engage directly on local-related affairs as prescribed on the 1987 Constitution. 

Its propulsion system is comprised of the Thielert Centurion heavy-fuel diesel engine which is basically the one that is being used on small civilian aircraft such as the Cessna 172 where the one was usually utilized for basic flying courses of aspiring civilian student pilots that seeks a career opportunity in the aviation industry as well as other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles like the TAI Anka of the Turkish Aerospace Industries which has the Centurion 2.0 engine as opposed to the Gray Eagle's 1.7.

Such an engine is different from what the Hermes 900 utilizes which is the ROTAX 914 of Bombardier Recreational Products which is a four-stroke, four-cylinder 114HP engine that has applications in multiple light helicopters and rotary aircraft which are actually can be found on earlier variants of the MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

With regards to its payload, it is known to be capable of carrying four AGM-114 HELLFIRE Missiles which makes the Gray Eagle lethal, wherein this missile was first produced with anti-armor use in mind until it became the known warhead that can blast high-value targets that came with the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and is also used in other platforms such as the U.S. Navy's AH-1W SuperCobra Attack Helicopter.

Moret Field, Edwin Andrews Airbase, Zamboanga International Airport, KCC Mall de Zamboanga, C-130H, Philippine Air Force
A certain C-130H aircraft in Edwin Andrews Airbase as seen from
KCC Mall de Zamboanga - a preferred place for planespotters.
From Pitz Defense Analysis archives
After understanding the drones deployed in Zamboanga City, this discussion will not be complete without understanding the airbase in the city which it was deployed wherein it has a runway that was also shared by an adjacent airport nearby which serves as Zamboanga City's primary access to its other major cities and other hubs in the Philippines aside from its seaport which is just nearby its downtown area.

The airbase was formed on December 6, 1956, by the Philippine Air Force in the honor of Colonel Edwin Andrews who killed in an air crash on May 18, 1947, although the runway itself was older than the airbase itself, of which it was once named "San Roque Airfield" named after an adjacent barangay that the strip was constructed by the Japanese and eventually named as Moret Field by the personnel of the United States Marine Corps landed in the airstrip after Lieutenant Colonel Paul Moret, a World War 2 marine aviator wherein, like Andrews, was died in an air crash during the war.

Since its formation as an airbase adjacent to a nearby airport that shares a single runway, the Edwin Andrews Airbase serves as the main base of operations for the Philippine Air Force which its jurisdiction covering most of Western Mindanao, augmenting other branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines assigned in the area especially at the nearby Western Mindanao Command in Barangay Calarian, Zamboanga City in which its role gets more highlighted as this part of the country is known for operations involving Moro radical bandits and separatists as highlighted in recent urban-related conflicts of the 2013 Zamboanga Siege and the 2017 Battle of Marawi alongside jungle-based skirmishes that take place occasionally.

Its location in the country as well as in Southeast Asia is seen as an ideal military access point for both the airbase and the adjacent military command base as it has the proximity of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi on the southwest as well as on places like Maguindanao and Marawi a bit Southeast beyond Moro Gulf as well as the grasp of the Sulu Sea which borders Malaysia and also an area of concern for Indonesia, so much that Trilateral Air Patrol Operations between these nations and the Philippines took place on 2017.

With the ongoing counterterrorism operations that both the Philippines and the United States are fighting, as well as Mindanao still being the volatile part of the country with its ongoing peace and security concerns involving Moro separatists and radical bandit groups, Edwin Andrews Airbase can still be seen as an area for the United States to deploy their unmanned aerial vehicles such as the MQ-1C Gray Eagle which was a sight to see for the locals at the time it takes off and lands on that single runway it shares with Zamboanga International Airport.

Moret Field when it was captured by American troops after
Japanese Occupation.
Obtained via Zamboanga de Antes
Facebook Group
Given the usual sight of unmanned aerial vehicles from the United States military taking off and landing in the shared runway for both the Zamboanga International Airport and Edwin Andrews Airbase, one might not help to see the difference that those platforms have with the ones procured by the Philippine Air Force as they looked the same from an untrained eye.

With this comes additional information and details about the difference between unmanned aerial vehicles that both the Philippine Air Force and the United States military employs in which these assets have the primary aim of attaining surveillance operations as part of counterterrorism activities that these forces have that is essential in dealing, if not thwarting possible threats that the Moro separatists and terrorist bandits pose against the safety and welfare of the Filipino public in Mindanao.

As the Philippine Air Force obtain both the Israeli-made Hermes 450 and Hermes 900 Unmanned Aerial Systems, it may not be surprising if one may be seen on the airbase especially if a military operation of the Armed Forces requires the presence of these surveillance assets that augments the MQ-1C Gray Eagles that the United States already deployed there, in the essence that the ongoing counterterrorism efforts will be effectively carried out, eventually paving for the peace and development that the people of Mindanao deserves to have.

Alongside the current operations in the Edwin Andrews Airbase, its history is also worthy to have a discussion as it goes, along with Zamboanga International Airport, the essence of having an established presence of the Philippine Air Force in Western Mindanao that can be traced back in the 1950s with the runway being traced back before when it was a Japanese airstrip which was successfully captured by United States forces of which they still used it until today, alongside civilian airliners carrying people in and out of the city as well as military assets of the Philippine Armed Forces.

Hence, it will be a nice thing to see more of these platforms for as long as the United States military still have these surveillance assets deployed in the City which goes along with their counterterrorism efforts and also with the future prospects of having more air assets of the Philippine Air Force seen on the Airbase as their presence evokes the security and assurance that the citizenry needs on the volatile, southern part of the country.

(c) 2021 PDA.




Total Pageviews To-Date

Webpage Visitors

Free counters!